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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2021 8:46 pm 
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...Eric Clapton, Rory Gallagher, Mark Knopfler, Robert Cray and a few others, I should be able to get along without a trem on a Strat. While most of these guys just "deck" or "block" the trem for tuning stability, I know that Cray plays a hardtail. And Joe Bonamassa has a '55 hardtail that he says is the best sounding Strat he's ever played (it surely sounds good HERE). So the idea of a hardtail Strat has me rather intrigued. I've never played one, and I'm wondering how much of an impact the thru-body stringing has on the tone and sustain.

So between a bunch of Strat parts I already have on hand (including THIS recent purchase) and a bunch more stuff I just ordered, I'm going to build a hardtail "partscaster". Don't want to spend much, so I found a very nice looking hardtail body in Surf Green at GFS (their better quality XGP line of bodies), a very reasonably priced WD Music Fender-licensed vintage style neck, and some inexpensive Kluson-type split-shaft tuners from The STRATosphere. Should look very much like this when I get it together (courtesy of the KISIKAE Modeler):

Attachment:
hardtail_strat_mockup.jpg
hardtail_strat_mockup.jpg [ 33.81 KiB | Viewed 4925 times ]

Will keep y'all posted....

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2021 9:15 am 
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Nice, man! I don't own a Strat, but if I got one, I think I would go for a hardtail. I've got the wiggle waggles covered with my Gretsch. Keep us posted on the build!

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2021 9:51 am 
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sjaustin wrote:
Nice, man! I don't own a Strat, but if I got one, I think I would go for a hardtail. I've got the wiggle waggles covered with my Gretsch. Keep us posted on the build!
Wait, you only have one guitar with a tremolo and it’s not a strat? I was told a strat was prerequisite to being a guitar player! I knew I should have stayed with bass.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2021 9:52 am 
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I’d really like to have a hard tail myself. Been kicking around the idea of building one myself. Maybe I could play like Robert Cray then?


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2021 10:27 am 
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The last of the parts arrived this morning--the hardtail body from GFS. To quote Theoden...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYSYAHDKtvM&t=16

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2021 1:02 pm 
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"And so it begins..." Love it!!! :mrgreen:
Looking forward to seeing the finished product!

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2021 6:31 am 
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Was looking at the same exact body at GFS, Bob. Nice move.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2021 10:09 am 
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Got the hardtail bridge plate drilled & mounted, the string ferrules installed on the back, and the first coat of shielding paint applied in the body cavity using THIS NICKEL CONDUCTIVE PAINT.

Also shaped & installed the nut, but had to stop there. The sleeves for the vintage-style slotted tuners are just a bit too large for the tuner holes in the WD neck, so I need to drill them out a little more. Need a 9mm drill bit, which I don't have, so had to order one. :( Should be here tomorrow (cue applicable Tom Petty song). In the meantime, I'll get the second coat of conductive paint into the cavity.

Attachment:
hardtail_body_shielding.jpg
hardtail_body_shielding.jpg [ 84.37 KiB | Viewed 4823 times ]

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2021 10:40 am 
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Looks like a fun project!

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2021 11:11 am 
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Guitar projects that only require drilling a few holes and screwing parts together are about as complicated as I can handle! Actual woodworking and finishing skills are outside of my modest competencies!

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2021 11:11 am 
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I know a thing or two about annoying waiting during guitar projects!!!

duhvoodooman wrote:
Also shaped & installed the nut, but had to stop there. The sleeves for the vintage-style slotted tuners are just a bit too large for the tuner holes in the WD neck, so I need to drill them out a little more. Need a 9mm drill bit
No, Bob, what you actually need is one of these. Talk about a single-use tool that REALLY gets the job done beautifully! Some serious sticker shock, though… thankfully, my dad bought one for a job a while back, and I have gotten to borrow it for a couple projects.

Image

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2021 1:59 pm 
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Uh, I don't think so. Looks very useful but has the usual StewMac excessive financial impact issue. I ordered a metric set of drill bits (titanium-coated steel, 19 pcs., 1 mm to 10mm in 0.5mm increments) from Amazon for the princely sum of $17. Between them and the set of English-sized bits I have, I can't imagine there will be many sizes I won't be able to approach closely enough for my pedestrian needs.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2021 7:51 pm 
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Well I sure wouldn't buy one if it were up to me. :) I'm sure you can get the job done with drill bits; just be super careful, go slow, and don't widen too much at once. I'm sure I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. But I did splinter the headstock of a cheap Strat long ago by using a drill bit, and the memory of that feeling has never left.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 11:04 am 
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duhvoodooman wrote:
I ordered a metric set of drill bits (titanium-coated steel, 19 pcs., 1 mm to 10mm in 0.5mm increments) from Amazon...

Did I ever mention that my three favorite words in the English language are "out for delivery"?? :mrgreen:

Here's the body rout with two coats of the conductive nickel paint. This stuff is great! My DMM shows full continuity from the top left corner of the neck pickup rout to the bottom right of the controls cavity. This sucker should be QUIET!

Attachment:
hardtail_shielding_coat2.jpg
hardtail_shielding_coat2.jpg [ 95.93 KiB | Viewed 4806 times ]

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 3:45 pm 
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OK, all done. Not without trials & tribulations. Three main trouble spots:

  1. As Scott warned, drilling out those tuner holes in the headstock is not easy. I was as careful as I could be but still had a couple of small chips around a couple of the holes. Nothing noticeable unless you're within a foot or so of the guitar and really look for it. However, if you're going for perfection (and I'm not worried about that in a ~$300 partscaster), that reamer that StewMac sells is the way to go.
  2. Unsurprisingly, if you're mating a GFS body to a WD Music neck, it's a long shot that you'll get a perfect fit. The neck is nice and snug where the neck heel meets the body, but less so up higher. There's a bit of a gap where the neck meets the top of the body on the higher bout side, but not bad. No impact on function.
  3. Issue # 2 on the neck mount is that I had to shim it pretty significantly to get the strings up off the frets. I've had to do this before on a partscaster, so it wasn't a surprise. Old plastic credit cards cut to shape do a good job for this purpose. Was able to get the action I prefer pretty quickly, between the shimming and adjusting the saddle heights.
  4. The biggest PITA arose from the fact that the WD neck had the vintage-tinted finish applied right over the frets. This necessitated removing the lacquer/varnish/urethane (pick one) from 21 frets by hand. The only workable method I could come up with was the gently scrape it off with the edge of an exacto knife and then polish out the unavoidable scratches/rough spots with abrasive pads (THESE from StewMac, which I fortunately had on hand). I got the all the tinted finish off the frets and they're shiny, smooth and play well, but it took me nearly 4 hours to complete this tedious task. Inevitably, there are a few fine scratches and rub marks here and there between the frets, but again, you'd really have to look closely to see them.

Bottom line, I have the hardtail Strat I wanted, and it looks, sounds and plays well. I may have to do some additional tweaking, but I think I've got it 90+% of the way there at this point.

Couple of photos:

Attachment:
hardtail_full.jpg
hardtail_full.jpg [ 50.51 KiB | Viewed 4781 times ]


Attachment:
hardtail_body.jpg
hardtail_body.jpg [ 81.82 KiB | Viewed 4781 times ]

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 5:01 pm 
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Nice work! Enjoy that new guitar.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 5:26 pm 
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Looking great! But oh my god, WHY would they lacquer right over the frets???

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 7:41 pm 
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CaptainPeyote wrote:
...But oh my god, WHY would they lacquer right over the frets???

Really!! Unfathomable to me.... :roll:

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 7:58 am 
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Wow, that looks fantastic.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 3:19 pm 
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I was just comparing images--that KISIKAE modeler does a pretty amazing job of predicting the eventual reality!

Attachment:
kisikae_vs_reality.jpg
kisikae_vs_reality.jpg [ 48.17 KiB | Viewed 4741 times ]

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 3:54 pm 
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Wow! Beautiful! So.... what are you going to build next? :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2021 7:29 am 
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Bob,

That looks PERFECT...making me itch.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2021 10:39 am 
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SteveO wrote:
So.... what are you going to build next? :mrgreen:

Look how quickly this guy learned to ask The Question :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2021 12:38 pm 
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Thanks, guys. Been playing it a lot the past couple of days and am really enjoying the guitar. I like the slightly different tone it has vs. my trem Strats, and it's nice not to have the strings adjacent to the one you're bending go flat!

sjaustin wrote:
SteveO wrote:
So.... what are you going to build next?

Look how quickly this guy learned to ask The Question

This should really be a "fill in the blank" question with several options:

What are you going to _____ next?

  1. build
  2. modify
  3. bugger up
  4. ruin
  5. need to replace
  6. etc.

:wink: :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2021 1:34 pm 
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Incidentally, I included probably my favorite Strat wiring modification in this build, which is the addition of a push-pull pot that adds the bridge pickup in series to whichever combination of the neck and/or middle pickups is selected. This adds three more distinctly different tones to the five stock tones, namely:

  1. bridge and middle in series
  2. bridge in series with the middle & neck in parallel
  3. bridge and neck in series

So all are "quasi" humbucker tones, and all three are definitely useful sounds. I particularly like the B-M series combo, which sounds like a fuller and somewhat darker version of the stock parallel B-M combination. I read a description of it as "quack on steroids", and that's pretty accurate!

Here's a wiring diagram; it only uses one side of the DPDT push-pull switch:

Attachment:
Bridge Pickup Series Add-in Wiring Mod.gif
Bridge Pickup Series Add-in Wiring Mod.gif [ 28.2 KiB | Viewed 4727 times ]

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